Wednesday, March 21, 2007

where do we come from?

21 Jun 2006
Time: 14:35

Everyone has to come from somewhere.

Doesn't matter if its from a small, oil-palm surrounded village (like my dad), a sleepy hollow that is a government administration town (like my mom), or an ex-mining town, or an island, from a fishing village, or one that thrived on logging.

And then there are those who're born in a country's capital, a booming new city, a teeming old metropolice or a city with people all over the world and airplanes arriving and taking off minutes apart in all 3 of its airports.

As a kid, I had some ego about being born in the city. Everyone I know was born here. And everyone who is not, is a country bumpkin.

And then we all grew up and learn about people from elsewhere. Come festivities, come good and bad celebrations and mournings and they have a hometown to go home to. Somewhere small, where everybody knows everybody else, where homes are not concrete pigeon holes.

Me, I have nowhere. My home is a pigeonhole, surburban house, unremarkable and looks like the other tens of thousands of houses in the surburbs. Come festivities, all my neighbours empty their houses and "go back to hometown".

Identity. Who am I? Where did I come from? I'm grateful for relatives from my mom's side. Her siblings, my grandparents, young cousins.

But that is the sum of my family...what has happened? Where are my other cousins? The ones I share the surname with, the ones who are, as Chinese saying goes, blood as thick and bond as tight as real siblings.

Losing a family comes with that kind of losing too. Going back to dad's hometown once or twice a year, appreciating life as it is elsewhere. But at least, at least right now dad is in my life. I harbor no fantasies and hope, but what I still have, as a daughter, is expectation.

We all have places where we come from.

Different childhoods. Different experiences. Different viewpoints. Different worldviews.

Old customs may be quaint, outdated and sometimes ludicrous, but they're the sum of an entire culture. We pooh-pooh it, let it die and replace it with new, educated, enlightened practices...who will carry on the old wives' tales?

While some of my cousins grew up playing with rubber seeds and sand and fishing and river bathing, I grew up taught to eek at dirt, swam in a monitored swimming pool and playing Barbie dolls.

I had a priviledged childhood. Travelling, eating in good restaurants, weekly excursions, access to books, toys and activities...only now, only now I begun to appreciate it. And miss it.
I'm still priviledged. I'm studying out of my dad's (and mom) pocket. I don't need loans. I still get allowances. ATM cards. In other words, I'm still spending money I don't make.

I feel bad sometimes. I'm old enough and capable enough to make my own money now. For a while, I did. Even being forced to stop is not an excuse to stop completely. I can always get another job and I didn't. Wasting more time and money by being addicted to chatting, instead. I never handed my parents money. I only know how to take from them. And I'm comfortable with the status quo. And when I start working what will happen? Completely self-dependent, will I crumble like a greehouse plant? Wilt like a flower?

Don't know. Don't know.

Where do I go to from here?

I'm fed up, I'm through with being banal, mundane. I think it's time to go to Society University - layperson's term (in Cantonese, at least), to learn about the real world.

Everybody has to come from somewhere. I need to learn where I came from, and where do I go to.

Beh made this comment,
very well written. i always believe that one can find their future path by understanding their past. but of course your writing has more depth than my simple statement. well, don't be in a hurry to go into the "real" world, cause after that, you will be reminiscing about the "old" innocent world that you once had but chose to ignore or resent. there are always good and bad moments in all stages of life, it is which moments that we choose to enjoy or choose to disdain. i think you have a gift in writing, keep it up pui yee.

Oreo made this comment,
nice post. well ... you're still young. glad to know you have mature thoughts. don't worry about it ... it's a growing process. enjoy your priviledges while you can. lol. society university can be quite a pain in the arse, but it makes you a stronger person. keep your chin up! good luck for the future! :)

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